Getting Things Done: the art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen

These are my notes I took down while reading David Allen’s book. Nothing is my own, all my notes are paraphrased.

  • Typical to do list don’t work!
    • Partial reminders don’t show you what your next step(s) is/are.
  • 5 stages of mastering workflow
    • 1. Collect all things that command your attention
    • 2. Process what they mean & what to do about them
    • 3. Organize the results
    • 4. Review options to complete task
    • 5. Do one of the options to complete task
  • I recommend copying the flow chart on page 32
  • 5 main types of lists:
    • 1. Projects (all big and little things that are vying for your attention)
    • 2. Calendar (appointments, birthdays, holidays, and due dates for specific appointments
    • 3. Next Actions (these can be subcategorized; these are the next steps to complete each project)
    • 4. Waiting For (a list of who you are waiting to hear from regarding projects or needed information)
    • 5. Someday/Maybe (a list of all the things you’d like to do, kind of like a bucket list
  • Once you’ve gathered every single item for your To Do list, try to break them down into these three categories: trash, delegate, and next actions.
  • There are 7 primary types of things you may want to keep track of:
    • A Projects List
    • Project Support Materials List
    • Calendared Actions & Information List
    • Next Actions List
    • A Waiting For List
    • Reference Materials
    • A Someday/Maybe List
  • Pg. 179 “Get comfortable with checklists, both ad hoc and more permanent. Be ready to create and eliminate them as required. Appropriately used, they can be a tremendous asset in personal productivity.”
  • Pg. 194 “I recommend that you always keep an inventory of things that need to be done that require very little mental or creative horsepower. When you’re in one of those low-energy states, do them. [Examples are:] casual reading, telephone/address data that need to be inputted onto your computer, file purging, watering the plants.”
  • Long-term project vs. Someday/Maybe:
    • Long-term ≠ Someday/Maybe
    • Long-term means “more action steps are required until it’s done”
    • Someday/Maybe means “no need to decide next actions because the days of reckoning is so far away” (pg. 247)
  • What is the next action?
    • Always ask this question
    • This is the question that will drive you forward

This book came recommended by many of the Facebook planner groups. Here are some things I took away from it. I do think I’ll have to re-read it at some point. In truth, it took me 4 ½ months to read it.